True to the liberal arts ideal, the St. Sebastian's curriculum encourages the pursuit of outstanding accomplishments in every discipline. Nowhere is that claim more evident than in our Writing Program. A fundamental form of communication, good writing must be appreciated both for its own sake and as a means to express one's thoughts. In recognition of its importance, the Writing Program at St. Sebastian’s invites students to think clearly, write coherently, and understand their world more fully.
Laying the Foundation
In grades seven and eight, students work with teachers to master the fundamentals of grammar. Instructors pay careful attention to building vocabulary and to gaining a firm grasp of mechanics -- parts of speech, usage, spelling, and punctuation -- as each student develops his writing voice. Frequent writing, both in English and across the curriculum, promotes clarity of expression and evokes from students their unique interpretations and opinions.
Though its benefits are felt in all disciplines, the cornerstone of the Writing Program at St. Sebastian's is Freshman Writing, a course taken by all ninth graders in addition to their traditional English class. By providing a constructive opportunity for verbal skills development in the crucial ninth grade year, St. Sebastian's helps each student gain confidence and proficiency in this important craft. Students in Freshman Writing commit to the four-part writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, and editing. They learn to express themselves in poetry as well as prose, and they develop critical and expository essays as well as narrative fiction. Small classes (typically no larger than 12) and frequent one-on-one sessions with teachers have a profound impact on each student's progress.
Mastering the Craft
Upon completion of Freshman Writing, students apply their skills in a variety of important areas. Sophomores write at least two essays per week in their required Modern European History course. At all grade levels, and in every department, but particularly in English, History, and Religion, students produce thoughtful and well-organized papers in increasing frequency. Students are also encouraged to share their written work aloud with audiences large and small, and to pursue publication opportunities when possible. All students’ chapel speeches and college essays benefit tremendously from their sharp focus on writing during their tenure at St. Sebastian’s. Most importantly, however, each student achieves a respect and proficiency for the written word that will serve him well not only in college but in every area of his life.
Even at a prestigious university, I edit all of my friends' papers, and I know I am not alone in that. It is no secret that St. Sebastian's graduates understand how to write and rewrite better than college students across the country.
- Billy McCarthy '15, Duke University '19